The tablet device hasn’t done too badly for itself around passed by. Spawned from Apple labs in early 2010, the iPad was uncontested king of tablets, gracing coffee tables and the laps of commuters everywhere. Afterwards in the year we had a few rivals emerge from under the woodwork, most noticeably the Samsung Galaxy Tab, an Android device prepared to counteract Apple’s supremacy.
Fast-forward towards the oncoming of 2011, and the technology industry’s biggest show, CES. Overall Winner of “Best in show” may be the brand new Motorola Xoom, a dual core 10.1 inch tablet sporting an Operating System dedicated to tablet devices. With nearly every tech firm on the planet also announcing a device to rival the iPad, it appears almost inevitable that 2011 should fit in with the tablet.
But it is not a foregone conclusion.
Reaching the marketplace too early
The tech community are like wasps around a pot of jam with regards to exciting services, especially when those products range from doors of one of the very successful ventures from the previous financial year! And also the sweetest product of may be the Android Honeycomb operating system. Dedicated for tablets, Honeycomb is extremely anticipated and the subject of infinite rumours leading up to and around CES.
But go beyond the hype and youâ€™ll see there are already mumblings of problems surrounding this budding product. Undoubtedly, it’ll suffer from the same teething problems as any first version of software. But reports happen to be pouring in suggesting that Honeycomb will reach the market incomplete. Certainly, it would appear that the Motorola Xoom will launch without a working SD card slot, due to a problem with the Android operating-system. No ideal start!
Secondly, it is undeniable that the tablet is really a luxury device. If you want to work when on the go, you’ll already have a laptop to consider along with you, and current generation tablets aren’t near as versatile for the average commuter worker.
Pricewise they’re luxury, too, with the iPad around $499. This will make them just as expensive as numerous good quality laptops and netbooks, but without a few of the functionality. Slimmer, more appealing, more enviable, yes – but an essential? No.
When it comes to usage, tablets excel in two fields. As coffee-table media devices that provide lightning-quick access to the internet, and as useful communication and demonstration devices for conferences and meetings (similar to the guys about the BBC coverage of the F1!).
Mobile phone makers are trying their hand at making tablets, and so are laptop manufacturers. Could we see a split along wrinkles, into different types of tablet optimised for various things? Of course, all manufacturers would declare that their tablet can cover all of the bases, however when Apple will still not allow Flash movies to experience through their internet browser, it is obvious that not all tablets is going to be viewed as equal!
This could be that, as manufacturers select their operating-system of preference to power their tablet, we begin to see a divergence towards either media consumption, or to business-oriented tablet computing.
This divergence will largely depend on the operating system’s restrictions and required specs. We’re likely to see an explosion in business-oriented apps within the coming year, and also the platform that they choose to work from could largely influence this split.
Things to expect
To create tablets really fly this year, they’ll have to coast through early teething problems, and quit that “me too, me too!” crowd-following behaviour when it comes to releasing new products. You want to see innovation and specialisation, to make the tablet devices of 2011 all the more desirable.